Goaltender Antti Raanta will make his second start of the season Sunday night when the Rangers host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden.
Raanta last played against the San Jose Sharks nearly two weeks ago and said he's looking forward to translating good practices into a strong start.
"It's been a while but there's been good time in practice and we have been working on some small things," Raanta told reporters following the team's morning skate at The Garden. "It feels good in practice. Just have to bring that to the game and have a good one."
The Rangers' schedule over the next several weeks is much more condensed than the one it opened the season with. New York plays five games in eight days, including a back-to-back this weekend. November as a whole is busy with 15 games in 30 days, including a trip to Western Canada.
Head coach Alain Vigneault said the schedule has played a big role in the way he's deployed his goaltenders.
"If you look at our schedule, the way it was laid out before, there was an opportunity to give [Henrik Lundqvist] some games," Vigneault said. "Now we're starting to stretch it to every other day, a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday. So we're five [games] in eight [days]. Both goaltenders are going to play this week."
With that said, Raanta stated he understands starts will not be given, but rather must be earned with strong play.
"Probably, but that's always the coach's choice," Raanta said when asked about if he expected to play more in the coming month. "But I just have to work hard and every time when I get the chance, I have to play good and have to earn the minutes. That's the plan today. It has been good in practice. I feel good and it's nice to get going again."
Sunday night marks Raanta's first career start against Tampa Bay. But the 27-year-old said he's familiar with what the Lightning bring.
"Pretty much you just go there. I have been here a couple years already so I pretty much know all the teams," Raanta said. "I have seen lots of teams. We went to six games in Chicago in the [2015 Stanley Cup] Final. You see a lot and you learn, even though you're sitting on the bench. You pretty much know what's coming on us. You just have to go there and do your thing and react to the situations and that's about it."
Forward Chris Kreider took part in the team's morning skate but Vigneault said he will not play against the Lightning. The plan now is to have him practice tomorrow and get back into the lineup Tuesday against St. Louis at The Garden.
"Looked fine out there today, but the fact that he hasn't had a full practice with the team, we're going to wait," Vigneault said. "We'll do that tomorrow and I'm confident he'll be good to go on Tuesday."